Social media is highly present in our lives. Youtube, Instagram and Snapchat are the most common social media used amongst teens. It is estimated that 63% of teenagers use social media every day and that around 45% of teens use social media ‘almost constantly’ (Pew Research Center, 2018). There is also the so-called ‘social media addiction’ which consists of the consistent checking of social media throughout the day. It is estimated that around 5% of teens have a social media addiction. It is also said that social media is potentially more addicting than alcohol and cigarettes. This addiction is caused because of two things: Firstly there is the instant gratification which is provided by likes and good comments; The second thing is a ‘hit’ of dopamine given also by things such as likes, followers, and nice comments.
Using social media has negative impacts. 21% of teens feel insecure about their bodies after looking at social media, this is more common in women, people with large online peer networks, those who follow celebrities, and those who check social media very frequently. Neha Chaudhary, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School says “Theen social media use has been thought to be correlated with depression, anxiety, worsening self-esteem, and loneliness.” Chaudhary also says that “Teens have been comparing themselves more to their peers and have been deprioritizing healthy, in-person communication.” Going back to the gratification, the lack of this can also lead to anxiety and loneliness because of the ‘lack of interest’ (lack of likes, followers, or comments) that people have towards the individual posting. The constant use of social media also leads to damage in sleep patterns and later on decrease in performance in school.
However, it is also important to note that not everything about social media is negative. According to the Pew Study, 31% of teens say that the impact from social media is mostly positive, and only 24% say that the impact is mostly negative. For the remainder 45%, social media has neither a positive or negative impact. Some positive aspects from social media are personal content and self-esteem, sense of social connectivity and belonging, emotional expression and control, and identity and develop
What can we do to get a positive impact out of social media?
One of the most important things to do if one is in search for a positive impact out of social media is to control it. Controling your social media could mean multiple things: controling the people you are following –by following celebrities or models you might not feel the best about yourself– ; controling the amount of time on social media –it is important to not be constantly checking social media in order for one’s mental health to be better–; and lastly control what you post and who you allow to follow you –people you don’t know might comment negative things just because they get some fun out of it–.
Effect Later in Life
As we’ve already seen, social media can have some pretty negative but also some pretty positive effects on people. These can lead to affecting people’s lives later on (in a positive or negative). To begin there are the negative ways it can affect one’s life. Anxiety and depression are two of the worst impacts that you can get from social media use. Anxiety is something that many people already live with and it can get to extremes in which it is really unhealthy and affecting life to the point that it is hard to do many simple everyday tasks. Depression could end up leading to suicide in the end or the person can get to very bad states of mind and needs to seek therapeutic help which unluckily is not always an option for everybody. Some possible impacts however are a rise in self-esteem and confidence which could lead to better things such as trying to go further and trying your best because you are confident you can achieve that goal. It also leads to being comfortable with yourself and a happier person in general.
Image (from social media is changing the mindset of our youth)